Our correspondents in Northwest, Northeast and Southwest zones report that most of the federal highways in the zones are in disgraceful condition, a situation that has forced some state governors to take over repairs or reconstruction of some federal highways.
As we stated in the first instalment of this nationwide report, when we covered the Southeast geo-political zone, our investigation on the state of federal roads shows that most of the major highways across the country are currently in a deplorable condition.
In this instalment, our correspondents reported that the highways in the Northwest, Northeast and South-west are also bitter tales of woes, anguish, frustration and pain as was the case in Southeast, South-south and Northcentral zones earlier reported.
From Yobe State for example, our correspondent reports that the state government has vowed to save motorists by constructing and rehabilitating the damaged federal highways. According to the report, the state government has constructed about 77 kilometers of the road from Damaturu Madza boarder town but the remaining 54km of the road to Biu is a still a nightmare.
We gathered that the state of insecurity has also had its toll on lack of maintenance that have helped to worsen the condition of the federal roads in this area, especially towards Maiduguri in Borno State, where Boko Haram activities have contributed negatively. Our correspondent quoted a top engineer supervising part of the road projects in the area as saying, If you go further at the Maiduguri section of the road, the project was completely abandoned due to the Boko Haram wahala. Though work has resumed from that side, the security of the area is very uncertain, he lamented.
The report from the Southwest is equally disheartening. For example, our correspondent from Ogun State reports that From the Sagamu inter change to Ajebandele (Ogun State) the boundary between Ogun state and her neighbouring Ondo State, the dual carriage way of 100km each, are replete with failed sections, rough surfaces, potholes, craters, broken down concrete medians and other physical obstructions from over grown weeds, shrubs, trees, abandoned broken down vehicles, slabs of stones and iron rods that stick out dangerously on both sides of the highway.
Ditches, potholes dot Jaji, Zango-Haya roads
Abdulgafar Alabelewe, Kaduna
Abuja-kaduna to Kano Road is the gateway to Northwest geo-politica zone, which serves a lot of economic purposes, including movement of goods and services, as well as people. The road is noted for heavy traffic during the weekends, as people who work and live in the capital city of Abuja ply the road to visit their families and relatives during the weekend.
Considering its importance however, the road which is supposed to be in good shape has continued to move from bad to worse, particularly, the Kaduna-Kano stretch, leading to the number of road traffic crashes which have claimed many lives in the recent past along the road.
While the stretch between Kawo in Kaduna North Local Government Area to Rigachikun, a distance of about four kilometres is passable with only two ignorable potholes, the remaining part of the road which spans 230 kilometers is filled with potholes, especially the Kaduna to Kano lane. Some of the potholes are so big that vehicles have to spend time meandering through them.
However, work has since commenced on the reconstruction of Abuja-Kaduna-Kano road, as the construction company handling the road was seen blocking one lane at several sections from Abuja to Kano.
But, Kaduna-Jos Road is in more deplorable state. In fact, it is more deadly; one considering that it is a single carriage way and that its potholes are so close that motorists have to dangerously snake through them.
The worst of the federal roads within the Kaduna axis however is the Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway, about 10 kilometres bye pass road, that connects travellers from the Southern part of the country, Abuja and some parts of North-central to other states of Northwest.
Our correspondent who embarked on an assessment tour of the above mentioned roads observed that aside potholes, some portions of the roads have been left deformed and dangerous to unsuspecting motorists, as running over them in high speed could lead to accident.
On Kaduna-Kano highway, portions yet to be touched by the reconstruction are dotted with many potholes and any driver plying the road for the first time needs to keep right. This is because most of the tyre-bursting potholes and ditches are either at the centre of the road or the right side. Therefore, attempts to maneuver through them can lead to accident, mainly because such potholes mostly leave no gap between the road and the median separator, and also because another vehicle may be coming behind and making it difficult to quickly change lane.
Though there are signs of patches in the past, there are five dangerous ditches and several other potholes between Jaji and Zango-Haya. But from Zango-Haya to Zaria is reasonably okay.
Kaduna-Jos road, through Saminaka and Pambegua, is a single carriage way terribly dotted with potholes. Kaduna to Turunku is fair. Turunku to Saminaka to Jos requires expertise maneuvering to sail through without crash or costly vehicle damages.
For the Nnamdi Azikiwe Express way, The Nations check revealed that the road which was repaired about two years ago has almost returned to its old bad state.
Kaduna-Birnin Gwari road, which is the shortest route to Kwara, Oyo and Lagos from Kaduna, has been abandoned due to its bad state, which has apparently made it possible for bandits to operate freely on the road.
However, few commercial motorists who ply the road to Birnin Gwari and Kontagora in Niger State have dangerous potholes and armed criminals to contend with.
Poor funding cause of dreadful federal roads in Yobe
Duku Joel, Damaturu
The recent allocation of over 200 billion naira for road projects in the 2020 budget is a clear indication that the federal government wants to change the narrative of the tales of bad highways in the country.
Even with that whooping allocation, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has maintained that the money is not enough to fund road projects in the country.
The ministry in its wisdom has therefore resolved not to embark on new projects until the old ones are completed.
Prior to this years huge budgetary allocation to works, experts said the funding has been inadequate thus causing serious dearth in the sector.
In Yobe State for instance, the past administration has even moved ahead to construct some federal roads like part of the Damaturu road. The Yobe State Government has constructed about 77 kilometers of the road from Damaturu Madza boarder town and the remaining 54km of the road to Biu is a nightmare.
The substantial portion of Nguru -Gashua road is still in very bad shape.
Below are some of the federal roads in Yobe:
Potiskum Kyari- Bauchi Road; Buachi road is in use.
Kaliyari- Damaturu road is just awarded by the Federal Government but we observed that the contractor was yet to mobilise to site as at the time of filing in this report.
As for Kano Potiskum Damaturu Maiduguri dualization, the section 4 (Potiskum-Damaturu) is 78% completed.
Damaturu- Biu Road is about 77 kilometers constructed by Yobe State Government but the remaining 54 km is still in very bad shape.
Gashua/Bayari- phase I and II are being handled by RRC and ECECC.
Potiskum Ngalda Gombe border Road is undergoing emergency repairs while the Nguru Gashua Road phase of the project has been completed. Also, the second phase, which is being handled by mother cat, is ongoing.
We observed that Potiskum Jakusko/Gashua is also undergoing emergency repairs by Kawagarbo Construction and M Contractors.
The dualization of Kano-Maiduguri road project is sub-divided into five sections, the Potiskum-Damaturu is section IV and it starts from Potiskum Junction linking Mamudo, Damagum, Garin Bingel, Dogon Kuka and Ngelzarma to Damaturu.
When The Nation visited the site of the project in Damaturu, construction work from Potiskum to Damaturu was almost completed from the N4 billion SUKUK funding from the Federal Government except the bypass in Damaturu and the two roundabouts in Damaturu. In Potiskum however, the bypass is completed and is being put in use.
An Engineer supervising the section of the project, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent that the initial project has a total of 96.240 kilometers but, the federal government later approved a length of 18km out of Damaturu and Potiskum bypasses to be included in the project.
The project started in 2006 and the substantial completion date of the project was 10th December 2013 but here we are today with the Boko Haram crisis and the paucity of funds and other issues surrounding the project.
If you go further at the Maiduguri section of the road, the project was completely abandoned due to the Boko Haram wahala. Though work has resumed from that side, the security of the area is very uncertain, he said.
The Nation gathered that the Kano/Maiduguri highway dualization project, awarded in 2006 by the then Obasanjo administration stretching over 500 kilometres from linking two major geo-political zones of the northwest and the northeast. The project links Kano to Jigawa in the North West, Bauchi, Yobe and Borno states to the northeast.
The project is divided into five sections with five different contractors executing each of the sections.
Section A covers Kano-Kiyawa in Jigawa State, B covers Kiyawa-Azare in Bauchi State, C covers Azare-Potiskum in Yobe State while sections D and E cover Potiskum-Damaturu and Damaturu-Maiduguri respectively.
Speaking on the state of some federal roads in Yobe State, the Controller, Federal Ministry of Works, Yobe, Engr. Akinmade Babalola, said some emergency repairs were recently carried out on some of the roads.
He noted that Yobe has about 15 federal roads stretching to 883.4 kilometers in the state.
We have just completed some emergency repairs on the following federal roads in Yobe State: Damaturu to Gashua, Gashua to Nguru as well as from Potiskum to Ngalda border in Gombe State, Babalola disclosed.
While praising the efforts of the federal government to change the narrative in the road infrastructure of the country, the Federal Controller however called for more funding. He attributed the dearth in the sector to inadequate budgetary allocations over the years.
Babalola however said insecurity is no longer a challenge as Yobe is at the moment enjoying peace.
Ondo vows to fix federal highways
Damisi Ojo, Akure
In Ondo State, some of the federal roads are Ipele-Isua-Akunnu, Ikare-Arigidi-Okeagbe-Oyin Akoko, Owo-Oka-Isua-Akoko, Ikare-Ado Ekiti and Ore-Sagamu. The Nation investigation shows that the condition of majority of these roads is deplorable.
Travelers are therefore groaning on daily basis, calling on the federal government to at least rehabilitate the roads.
Some road users alleged that if the roads have been maintained, most of the road accidents, especially in Akoko axis, would have been drastically reduced, as it would have served as alternative roads to the clumsy Oka Akoko-Abuja road.
In fact, Ondo State Government has expressed displeasure at the condition of the federal roads in the state. It vowed to fix them for the benefit of the people in the sunshine state.
Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Saka Yusuf- Ogunleye, expressed displeasure over the roads during an inspection of the failed portion of the roads
Ogunleye noted that though the roads are owned by the federal government, they are being used by the people of the state, hence the need for the inspection.
He said The present government of Oluwarotimi Akeredolu cannot fold its arms and watch these roads become impassable. We have decided to intervene on behalf of our people. Our people remain the priority. Anything that affects them must be tackled. We have to make our roads safe regardless of maybe they are federal roads or not, he said.
He explained that the state government was compiling the list of the roads to be fixed across the state, adding that the state government had earlier intervened in Owo/Ikare and Owo/Ose roads, which are all federal roads.
He said that the state government was going to replicate the gesture in all other federal roads that are in poor state.
He said the state government intended to liase with the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) on the need for the federal government to fix the roads.
Ogun, Lagos highways of pain
Ernest Nwokolo, Abeokuta
The Ogun State stretch of the federal expressway especially the Sagamu Ore expressway and the Lagos Ibadan arm of it, have become the nightmare for thousands of motorists and travelers who ply the road daily.
From the Sagamu inter change to Ajebandele(Ogun State) the boundary between Ogun State and her neighbouring Ondo State, the dual carriage way of 100km each is replete with failed sections, rough surfaces, potholes, craters, broken down concrete medians and other physical obstructions from over grown weeds, shrubs, trees, abandoned broken down vehicles, slabs of stones and iron rods that stick out dangerously on both sides of the highway.
The Nation toured the expressway twice in a week and counted over 250 potholes from the Interchange end of it to Ijebu Ode extending to Ajebandele which motorists contend with regularly at great risk to lives and vehicles shock absorbers, sump, fenders, among others.
But it is worse from the Odogbolu junction up to the Babcock University stretch of the expressway, in Ilisan, a distance of about three kilometre.
The road is strewn with potholes, rough surface save the Nairaland Oil and Gas Ltd stretch of it, which has a little respite, and there are no road signs or kilometre poles that indicate to travelers distance ahead or the ones already covered.
From the same Nairaland Oil and Gas to Odogbolu, parts of the road have given way to erosion with the asphalt washed off completely. The Ososa dual carriage bridge along the road also does not have parapet walls (railings), and have regrettably taken the sobriquet of a Golgotha for unlucky motorists and travellers.
On July 4th this year, a vehicle skidded off the Ososa Bridge and plunged into the river beneath, killing three passengers and injuring 11 others in the process.
Earlier this year, a woman conveying her undergraduate daughter to Tai Solarin University of Education, Ijagun, Ogun State, lost control of the wheel and plunged into the Ososa River and died.
This October, many travelers drowned when vehicle conveying them also plunged into the same river, prompting the Ogun State Government to direct the Reynods Construction Company (RCC) to provide palliative measure for the bridges to avoid re-occurrence of vehicles plunging into the river.
It is understandable why unfortunate travelers do end their journey inside Ososa River. With its bushy surrounding, absence of road signs to warn motorists of dangers ahead, littered potholes, lack of railings and constant flooding on it during heavy downpour, motorists unable to discern where the road should be, discover too late that they are irredeemably headed to the river below the bridge.
The last time major palliative work was done on the Ogun stretch of the federal road was during the administration of the then President Goodluck Jonathan when the contract for the reconstruction of the road designated as Ajebandele Sagamu phase 111 was awarded to RCC Nig. Ltd.
The construction firm at the time repaired the Ajebandele point up to the J4 Ogbere junction in Ogun Waterside Local Government Area, with stone base and laying of bitumen while potholes and craters were also sealed up from same Ajebandele up to Mabolufon junction in Ijebu Ode and later extended to the Sagamu interchange.
Today, the potholes and craters have not only returned, but have also come to stay unless the government cares enough to fix them.
The hardship being experienced by motorists due to the deplorable state of the road is often compounded when any of the major religious centres that dot both sides of the expressway hold its weekly or monthly programme, making travelling along that corridor nightmarish and chaotic as worshippers surging to access or exit their worship centres and travelers battle for access way along the same expressway.
While it is generally agreed that the condition of Lagos Ibadan expressway and Sagamu Ijebu Ode expressway remained a constant source of agonies, traffic, accidents and damage to vehicles, all of these paled into insignificance when placed side by side with the Abeokuta Ota Lagos expressway; another federal road in Ogun State.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, this road corridor had remained death traps for motorists and travelers. The Nation gathered that the last contract for the Lagos Sango Ota Abeokuta expressway was awarded and signed in 2001 with about N26bn debt still hanging on it.
On May 11, 2019, motorists and travelers spent over six hours at Ota Abeokuta road groaning, because of its deplorable state. It is worse at the Itori Ewekoro Ifo Ota corridors of it where large portions of the road have washed away. Also, the slow pace of repairs in parts of this busy road does not help matters.
According to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, N1b is budgeted for the servicing of the road every year.
Buffeted by paucity of funds, the federal government has never done or completed repair work on it save the Sango Ota overhead Bridge, which was finished with the influence of Rt. Hon. Dimeji Bankole as the then Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Last September, Governor Abiodun hinted that the two governments of Lagos and Ogun had met with President Muhammadu Buhari and requested that the federal government should hand over the Lagos Sango Ota Abeokuta expressway to them for its reconstruction, rehabilitation and management.
It is hoped that in the event that the proposal sails through, the two governments of Lagos and Ogun intend to use Public Private Partnership (PPP) approach to fix the road, commercialise and toll it for easy maintenance, easy movement of people and goods and to drive development not only along that corridor, but also the whole of two states.
The Controller, Federal Ministry of Works, Ogun State and the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) officials all located within the Federal Secretariat, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, could not comment on the situation despite visiting the separate offices three times.